Brian Graham, Allen Sorrel, and Robby Robison serve as mentors for the FIRST Robotics teams at Salem High School in Michigan, Northshore High School in Louisiana, and Niceville High School in Florida. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”. The organization was founded in 1989 to “develop ways to inspire students in engineering and technology fields”. The students are responsible for design and fabrication of the robot, while mentors offer tips and support during the process.
President Obama sent a letter to be read at the annual FIRST Robotics Challenge Championships held in Atlanta in April, encouraging and praising the program. In addition, the Secretary of Education addressed the participants of the competition praising the accomplishments of the teams that reached the championships and praising the mission and achievements of the FIRST Robotics program. He also discussed a proposed $300 million increase in funding for STEM related programs, including FIRST, and how that will be used to grow these programs for the future.
NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, addressed the participants during the awards ceremony as well. He emphasized how proud he was that so many of NASA’s contractors make such great contributions to the FIRST program as a whole as well as to the participating teams. He also pledged to greatly increase NASA’s already significant contribution to the FIRST program.